Nagas have been struggling for more than seventy years to be a free people and to exercise our sovereign rights. However, till date the struggle to chart our own destiny continues amidst the gathering storm. Among other reasons, I have identified here four aspects for the failure on our part. All these aspects are central to our understanding of a shared Naga future. These four aspects are:
Factionalism and lack of reconciliation
The glorious legacy of the Nagas under one united house, namely the Naga National Council, has been undone given the increasing factionalism in the present Naga political discourse. While we blame India and Burma for their divide and conquer policy on the Nagas, we too are equally responsible and accountable for succumbing to it. The reasons for this are lack of transparency and accountability, misconceived pride, misplaced loyalty, idealism without pragmatic planning and lack of philosophy and values.
Corruption in Naga society has reached its peak. It has become pervasive and has impinged all aspects of our lives, including the church. The culture and practice of corruption threatens the Naga way of life and is in complete contravention of our indigenous values and practices.
The present day Nagas have become too dependent on India and Burma in the form of education, jobs, goods, business, trade and basic infrastructure. As we have become too dependent, Nagas are trailing behind in many fields. Furthermore, Nagas have been put inside a box and are now conditioned to think and behave according to their ways. This has led to economic dependency and erosion of cultural and political values and principles.
Challenges of geo-politics
Naga-Land being a landlocked homeland that suffers from geo-political challenges caused between the two great power houses of Asia. As a result the international community is quite reluctant to intervene in the Naga issue though there is awareness of the situation and acknowledgement of the fact there is something seriously wrong. On the other hand Nagas too tend to ignore the role of the international community and support from them. Consequently the international community perspective on the Naga issue is often influenced by dominant media. It is tragic that the Naga story from Naga perspective has not found its due place in the community of nations. This is further compounded by the internal bickering within the fractured Naga movement. Along with this, the inability of the Nagas to adequately and effectively reach out to our neighbors, who actually want to reach out to us, has limited our politics.
What are some of the ways forward to a shared Naga future?
1. All Nagas need to come together and participate in dealing with the issues of corruption that is prevalent at the systemic, structural, social, community and individual levels. We need to evolve an effective and prudent strategy in eradicating this chronic disease at all of Naga life.
2. The Naga National Workers need to overcome factional differences and achieve Naga national reconciliation for the sake of the Naga future. The issue of disunity and factionalism must be decisively resolved so that the internal chaos is not a stumbling block to Naga aspirations.
3. Nagas need to create a new Naga consciousness. It implies communicating with the world and with each other through the Naga lens, and not through the lens of the oppressor. A new Naga consciousness needs to lead towards a self-reliant society. For Nagas to be self-reliant, it means creating new models of governance, education, business, trade, commerce, economy and a relevant and workable legal system. It means getting down to addressing and achieving basic needs.
4. Nagas need to formulate a comprehensive geo-political policy that will protect, safeguard, secure and further the common interests of the Naga people and its neighbors.
The resilient spirit of Naga nationalism and consciousness is needed at this juncture. Naga minds from all over the Naga-Land – young and old, poor and rich, women and men – need to come together as One Nation to create a comprehensive policy for the progress and liberty of the Naga people. This is the path of our shared future.
Athong Makury is the President of the Council of Naga Affairs based in Naga Self-Administered Zone, Myanmar